The Alton Marina and Clark Bridge at Night
Alton is located in northwestern Madison County near the confluence of three great rivers, the Mississippi, the Missouri, and the Illinois. Alton is a quintessential Mississippi River town with a rich history, and today it is a popular tourist spot. The Alton area was home to Native Americans for thousands of years; evidence of their culture still survives in the Piasa Bird painting just north of town. In the 1830's Alton was the home of Elijah Lovejoy, a minister, publisher, and abolitionist who was killed by an angry mob and is seen today as a martyr to the causes of freedom from slavery and the freedom of the press. Today he is buried in Alton Cemetery where there is a large monument dedicated to his memory near the entrance. Alton was sight of the 7th and last Lincoln-Douglas debate in 1858, and today a memorial downtown commemorates this event. During the Civil War, Alton housed thousands of Confederate prisoners in wretched conditions, many of whom died. On the north end of town there is a mass grave of Confederate soldiers and a large monument placed there to honor them. Today in Alton, thousands of people visit each year to enjoy the natural beauty this town perched on the Mississippi River bluffs, to watch for bald eagles that winter each year here, to visit the many historic attractions, and to eat at a nationally famous restaurant.
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